Let’s talk a bit about Mega Man design

So, the concept art for the FPS Mega Man X has surfaced on Granov’s official Tumblr. Let’s take a look at it.

It's like Ultron had taken over Iron Man armour again and painted it to look burned metal
It’s like Ultron had taken over Iron Man armour again and painted it to look burned metal

I could be done with this post with two more pictures posted here; any Iron Man armour Granov has worked on and one of the Pantheon from the Zero series. There would be no need for words, but I need to open this issue a lot more. The thing is that the character Granov designed is not X; it’s an Iron Man take on one of those Pantheons.

But let’s get this Iron Man comparison out of the way now. The similarities FPS X shares with the Mark III armour are in the overall shape and composition with only few key differences, which actually would tell that FPS X design would actually fit very well as a more advanced version of some Iron Man armour. Some of these things are later on shared with some of the movie-verse armours as well. First of all, the plating of FPS X is very similar, if not exactly like, to the Mark III armour. This is not just the selected style of Granov himself, but something he can’t get away with. All great designers have their own style, but they can change their styles according to the needs of the job. For example, while McQuarry’s style is very easy to recognize, the way he made his works look like between different pieces has always been unique. For example, with just one glance you can tell the difference between the man’s Star Wars concept art and Star Trek Phase Two concepts he made. Granov doesn’t bother changing what he makes, which just makes the both of these designs less unique. The main difference in the aforementioned plating between MkIII and FPS X is that X shows more internal components, a weird designer fetish I can’t grasp on when it comes to mechanical designs, but even then the later suits of Iron Man show progressively more internal components. This is one of the reasons why the FPS X design just fits with the Iron Man line.

Now we could say that the both overall lines are similar just because they both follow the design of human body. I would agree if this was all about that. All powered armours are built on the idea of human body shape [Edit:I mean, duh?] and we all know how wildly different designs there are out there. Hell, even the Ultimate Iron Man armours tend to look different. As such, the overall core is the same and this results in a design that is essentially the same. MkIII armour has more bulk than FPS X for obvious reasons, such as it was one of the earliest suits Stark built, it has to actually accommodate a human inside with some extra bulk to make it look like a (modern) powered armour and to follow the selections of shapes in many places. Granov’s style also invades every past Iron Man armour he has made, as the tends to redesign them on the fly which is highly unprofessional. On top of that all, I’m afraid some of the design elements in FPS X are because of the live-action Transformers films. Perhaps from there the “shattered” armour lines came from.

Overall, it’s an unimpressive design which lacks recognizable Mega Man characteristics.

Speaking of these characteristics, let’s talk about them now and how the whole thing misses the points of androids like the Mega Man lineage. First of all, it lacks more shades of blue. No Mega Man is never composed of one blue. In FPS X we only see one shade of burned steel alongside dull grey in the inner components. The only contrast we have is from red, which is now overplayed. Sure, it comes from two region only, but the lack of all other colours just makes it scream the design’s lack of lustre. There was a sort of rumour going on that I haven’t seen confirmed about X’s face, where it changed according to his wishes from the robotic X we see now to more human one as he grows. Ok, sounds decent, but what use would X have for a holographic face? It sounds gimmicky and doesn’t really serve any real purpose. Humanity rarely is shown with a face that looks like humanity, but through actions.  On top of that, it would not have been too difficult to make X learn the expressions humanity has. Then again, this all goes against what Mega Man X is as a character, but we’re here to speak on the design alone.

The most prevailing element with any Mega Man through these years we’ve seen in is the eyes, the expressions they make and the feelings the characters convey. X is the player character, and we are to become him as we play the game. Face, especially the eyes, are perhaps the most powerful way of doing this, as from those few elements we can deduce what the character is feeling, thinking. Faceless heroes usually just talk their intentions and wants out, making it all kinda dull. It’s more or less shooting yourself in the leg, as now having a face on your character quickly makes him either a ruthless killing machine, or you’re telling the player what kind of character he is. Games share a common rule with film; show, do not tell. Too often we hear and/or read the characters in a scene and that’s just not good game. Sure, we could make X into a ruthless, cold killing machine that just ends up killing everyone and everything that comes into his way and—

Oh yeah...
Oh yeah…

Disregarding the differences between East and West, FPS X by all means is just a Pantheon. The idea of Pantheon is to make the hero’s look into the aforementioned cold and merciless killing machine. In Pantheon’s this is realized to the full effect with multiple varieties of Pantheons. For the uniniated, Pantheons are mass-produced cannon fodder of Mega Man Zero series. They are modelled after a copy of Mega Man X, who serves as the boss of the first game. This explains why they are modelled after the legendary hero. The simplest of Pantheons, the Hunter pictured above, shares its weapon element with what Granov had designed. They’re both menacing in their own way. I’m sure Granov had very little to say to the matter of what the weapon is in function, as CAPCOM and Armature Studios most likely dictated most of this. I’d wager that Armature was the one who decided on this more violent and cruel X rather than CAPCOM, but Granov was mostly just following what he was dictated. This doesn’t change the fact he designed an awful Mega Man X, it just shows some elements he had no input in.

One thing that drove the FPS X design was the story of the possible trilogy, where X was supposed to go mad over power and end in the third game in Zero’s hands. I will never agree that X should become the antagonist in the games and in the story. I have gone over this before, and I will shorten the core reason here; X is a hero. While heroes have falls, they always rise back and redeem themselves. The original intended game canon that went from Mega Man X5 to Legends tells that X’s dream is to create the perfect place where humans and Reploids could live together. Neo Arcadia from Zero series is not his dream in any form or shape. The original story wanted real X to be the enemy, but CAPCOM wisely opted out for the better. A Copy X explains why and how this dream got twisted. It would be a misnomer to say that Mega Man X is a perfect being, unable to go insane or make mistakes, but he is a hero more similar to the classic Flash Gordon than the Spawn. It would be a waste of character to make him into the evil end boss. X5 had a decent way of making the player fight against X, and it worked. Out from the two, Zero is the most likely candidate to go batshit insane and start a killing spree.

Back to the topic for now. While on the technical level the design is superb, it’s held back by its intention and the designer’s inability to step outside his comfort zone. The world has no need for uninspired and boring designs like this that do not meet the qualities desired by the customers.

Editor addition; After all, you do not need to design all things to fit one mould. Not all chairs have four legs and they’re just as good to sit on.

CAPCOM doesn’t get it #5

The original name of this post was something really vulgar, like CAPCOM, you dense motherfuckers don’t know what the fuck you’re doing, but I decided that something like that would be a bit overboard. Only a bit.

Since Mega Man X7 came out, CAPCOM has been out of the loop on what to do with the series. They have no direction for it, no idea how to manage the brand or what Mega Man even is. It’s something they see unfit for their current image. This is why those online titles were announced. I never liked their idea, as Mega Man is a single player game through and through. Something like Power Battles works as a multiplayer simply because of its arcade nature. Mega Man Legends 3 was on the right tracks with what a Legends game should be, but CAPCOM axed it like a crippled horse.

Let’s get to the core now, so I can get it all out before I smash another plate in a fit of fury; there was once  a Mega Man X First-Person-Shooter project called Maverick Hunter.

MEGA MAN X FUCKING FIRST PERSON SHOOTER
MEGA MAN X FUCKING FIRST PERSON SHOOTER

Metroid Prime worked because at the core it was the 2D Metroid transferred into 3D. For every change it adapted the core of the 2D Metroids in some form. The style was there, the atmosphere was there, and music was there… basically everything you want from a good Metroid game was in there. While the gameplay was different and all that, everything in it was Metroid.

Who the hell thought it was a good idea to rework Mega Man X into a grimdark FPS revival? It boggles my mind that somebody at CAPCOM thought that because the Prime series was a relative success, similar treatment would benefit Mega Man. I want to punch both the author and everybody involved this project, and kick those people in the nuts who thought this could’ve been good. It’s not unfortunate that this project was cancelled; it saved us from losing what had been built thus far.

Why?

Because this game was not Mega Man X game at any point.

I love how the author tries to tell that the game would’ve been true to the core of Mega Man X gameplay. Pretty much everything said, from obtaining enemy weapons to wall-jumping, has been introduced in FPS’ in some way already, and nobody calls those games as Mega Man X clones. Then there’s the point of the design being horrible. I don’t have strong opinions on Iron Man’s armours in the films outside them being bland, but the images we see here are abysmal, generic, and screaming HARDCORE with dick on their hands. You also see the clear Iron Man influence in there, which only tells that the concept designer Adi Granov can’t do anything else than that one thing that he is most for. It’s most just an influence, there’s clear design elements directly lifted from the Iron Man armour that were just slapped in there with changed colours. No, it’s not a good thing. We’ve talked about how changes in style can doom a brand, and this change would not have gone well. There would have been hype and hardcore hipsters and jockies would’ve liked it, and everybody else would shrug it off as yet another space marine FPS the industry is flooded with.

There’s also this thing that the authors of the article keep thinking that Mega Man X was a gritty sequel to Mega Man. It really wasn’t, it just took itself a bit more seriously. It’s apparent that the story would’ve been in a larger focus, and while I’ve ranted how CAPCOM never managed to tap the potential X had, the games never really needed it. Because of this plot centric shit, the game would’ve been a trilogy that would’ve ended by Mega Man X going evil and Zero killing him.

I will not cover my despise towards anyone who thinks this is a good idea, that because Mega Man X is as human as we are, he will become evil. Do these monkeys really think that a character who  holds dear everything that’s good in the world and the only reason he is willing to fight is to protect others despite his own conflicts and aims to save even the villains would go evil? If you answered yes, then start protecting your gonads. So, what about the manga? Did you read it? I did, I have it on my shelf, and I read the re-prints with the new ending. In the comics, X starts as the only robot able to cry. That itself is some heavy shit right there. Every enemy he has to kill grinds him, and as the story progresses Sigma puts X through worse and worse shit, slowly manipulating him and psychologically abusing him, and yet every time X manages to beat him. X4 story ends with X donning his Ultimate Armour, holding a ripped Repliforce flag in his hands and laughing manically. While Sigma’s plan was successful to an extent, he nevertheless was defeated, and in the additional ending in the reprints X reflects on his choices and further aims for a more peaceful world.

In short; X does have his darker moments, but he never succumbs to them to abandon his real self. Tetsuwan Atom/ Astroboy handled all the same concepts, but with Mega Man X there’s a chance

And the motherfucking Zero fanwank. It needs to stop. Zero fans always go how he is stronger and cooler than X, even if Zero himself admits that X is more powerful than he, and for the love of whatever you worship, by X’s defined name he has unlimited potential. Explore that! That’s something we haven’t seen in video games yet. We have half-assed attempts of exploring humanity through artificial life, but never at this scale; not at this possible extent. If you want to write a story for Mega Man X games, write a story about a machine that needs to struggle with his humanity, the responsibility that has been set on his shoulders as the source of a new robotic race, the power he holds within, the unlimited possibilities he has, and how they are denied because one other decides that the ideals he lives by are wrong, and that he either needs to join the other side, or be destroyed. How this changed the world and peace loving pacifist is thrown into war, where his kin and mankind are killed left and right, into determined mind to protect those who can’t protect themselves. How X finds out that the power inside him is not only for the evolution of soul, but also for unlimited destruction and death if he so chooses; how a mind that has always regarded peace and harmony as his forte now has to face that the arm he has holds a key to Apocalypse. How an arch enemy continuously steps forward, laughing at X’s believes and questioning all he stands for. Sigma is the opposite of X in all this, a soul that believes in absolute control of the higher race as him in the control.

X’s potential, both in-game and outside the game, is limitless and it was never tapped. Goddamn, I should write 50 Shades of Gray styled fanfiction of Mega Man X, except it would be worth reading.

And these idiots want a story where X goes evil and Zero, the literal Pandora’s Box (with him being the one who carried the Virus that was the reason for Mavericks,) has to kill him to save the world. That’s not poetic or anything; that’s overused piece of tired trash.

There’s so much wrong in the whole concept of this that it hurts. Hell, the Mega Man8-bit Death Match managed to hit the right spot because it was basically a joke; Mega Man on top of Doom with new weapons. And it works because it has everything that Mega Man already was. This… this would work as a separate game, something that has nothing to do with Mega Man X. If it had been released as The Android Hunter Saga or something, it might’ve been something special. As it was before canned, it was complete and utter bullshit. Rather than trying to reinvent already established game series, they could’ve been making Mega Man X9.

Speaking of reinventing game series, DMC sure went well with CAPCOM. The authors try to say that original Mega Man X was something like this, but that’s just wrong; Mega Man X was a sequel and a separate entity of Mega Man that still was produced. DMC was a reboot, a sad replacement for a good series. This would have been the exact same.

I’m glad to see that Svensson agrees that at this time it would’ve been a bad idea to release something like this. Mega Man’s dead and publishing Mega Man X FPS would’ve ensured further death of the brand. How can a dead be dead? Well, necromancy. In Mega Man case, it would’ve been necromancy and necrophilia, and there would have been no consent from Mega Man’s side. [Editor;consensual sex is hot.]